Churches and synagogues are among the structures that suffered considerable damage from Hurricane Sandy, and while several non-profit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, houses of worship will not be eligible for aid because of a constitutional separation of church and state. A group of Jewish organizations is not giving up and continues to apply for grants. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman has presented an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy recovery appropriations bill to add houses of worship to the list of eligible organizations. (Photo: David Sundberg / ESTO)
Posts tagged with "FEMA":
Over the last few months, there's been much talk about rebuilding smarter after Hurricane Sandy to prepare for the next super storm. But one alternative has gone under the radar until today’s State of the State Address when New York Governor Cuomo proposed the Recreate NY-Home Buyout Program that would provide funds to buy out homeowners who wish to sell their properties and relocate elsewhere. Capital New York reported that a resident estimated that 60 percent of his Fox Beach community in Staten Island wants a buyout, and through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, that just might be possible. But for a buyout to happen, it requires a several-step process that would need the “Bloomberg administration to petition the state for grant money.” If Cuomo follows through on his proposal, residents of Fox Beach and other waterfront communities who want to relocate might get their wish. (Photo: David Sundberg/ESTO)
While the majority of New York City is pre-occupied with the recovery efforts post-Hurricane Sandy, the Department of City Planning (DCP) is discussing and introducing different measures that can be taken to protect our buildings from future storms. At a review session yesterday, Howard Slatkin, the Director of Sustainability and Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for the DCP, presented Hurricane Sandy: Initial Lessons for Buildings. From the start, Slatkin maintained that newly constructed buildings designed to code “fared better.” He listed several buildings—such as The Edge in Williamsburg, IKEA in Red Hook, and Arverne by the Sea in the Rockaways—as examples of new developments that successfully withstood the storm. “Ninety-eight percent of buildings destroyed by the storm were built pre-1983,” said Slatkin. “If you design buildings to the proper standards, they can survive flooding.” Even with those findings, Slatkin said the storm “exceeded both the boundaries and flood heights of the current FEMA 100-year flood zones.” He reinforced the need for upgrades to building codes that would require “freeboarding,” which means elevating the lowest floor of a building. Beyond building codes, Slatkin touched upon the need to implement changes to the flood maps, and revealed that this will happen in the very near future. “FEMA is expediting the release of the new FEMA map,” said Slatkin who anticipates this will happen at the end of this month. FEMA recently posted new flood elevation maps for 10 counties in New Jersey.
In New York City’s post-Sandy life, the important issue of provisional housing after a disaster is more prominent than ever. Although the plans will not affect those impacted by the recent storm, over the past five years the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing modular apartment blocks for disaster housing relief consisting of ever-adaptable shipping containers. Relief housing for future emergencies could be quickly trucked in and stacked to create housing for dozens of displaced residents. The design prototype constructed by New Jersey shipping company, Sea Box, takes the 480 square feet of a shipping container and converts it into a fully furnished modular one-bedroom apartment. Each unit can then be stacked one upon another with the idea that a large parking lot or playground could serve as a location for its speedy construction after a disaster. Officials believe the boxes would serve as a more viable and durable disaster-housing solution for NYC than FEMA trailers. Each module is expected to be reusable up to 20 times and cost between $50,000 to $80,000. The hope is that FEMA could cover most if not all of the expenses. Uniquely answering NYC’s need for housing density in a compact area, the container solution was borne from a 2007 competition—titled WhatIfNYC—where entrants were asked to consider various criteria related to the urban disaster environment including the ability to house large numbers of people, be rapidly deployable, comfortable, inexpensive, and energy efficient. To test the proposal the Office of Emergency Planning will construct a 16-unit prototype in Brooklyn, which they hope to complete by the end of 2013. FEMA and the Army Corps are tentatively on board as the model is constructed, but final approval from the city has yet to be declared.
On the heels of the Saints' victory, the Big Easy had another big win this week, this time in the form of a $474.8 million FEMA payment. But preservationists have been dealt a major blow in their fight to save 70-year-old Charity Hospital in New Orleans, along with a tract of historic homes and structures in the city’s Mid-City district. For the past four years, Louisiana state officials have been at loggerheads with FEMA over the extent of Hurricane Katrina’s damages to Charity, which has been shuttered since the storm. On Wednesday, a federal arbitration panel ordered FEMA to pay nearly all of the requested replacement costs for the state-owned hospital. The ruling was a triumph for city and state officials who argued that Charity was more than 50 percent damaged by the hurricane and therefore eligible for replacement, instead of repair. As AN reported in July 2009, the decision was seen as vital to advancing a Mid-City biomedical development plan that would place the new Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital (already funded by Congress) alongside a new LSU medical center to be built with state funds, revenue bonds, and FEMA’s compensation for Charity, formerly the school’s teaching hospital. Preservationists argued that the plan would destroy the iconic art deco hospital and a slew of historic structures, and pushed their ideas for an all-out retrofit of the building. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who applauded the panel’s decision, said $40 million in Community Block Grant money has already been set aside to find a new use for Charity—but with the National Trust still disputing the Mid-City development plans on environmental grounds, New Orleans is far from getting the medical care it needs.